Nothing is Constant

Who: Ixia, Kironen, Zerujath
When: Month 10, 200 AT
Where: Living Cavern, Ista Weyr/Honshu Weyrhold
What: Ixia meets Kironen and brings him to Honshu… Just a little earlier than expected.

All told, there are safer places that Ixia could be sat with her precious boxes of cargo than Ista’s living cavern, her perch one on the end of a row at a long table, said boxes piled up next to her and right in the way of footfall and passing traffic. Lucky for her, there aren’t too many people about at this time in the afternoon, lunch having come and gone and taken the noise and hustle and bustle with it. She’s snagged a mug and a pitcher of something, as well as a plate of leftovers from the recent meal, food being shovelled into her face at a rate that is not terribly polite, though there’s a gauntness to her features that suggests she could do with being better acquainted with food in general. The knot at her shoulder marks her as a greenrider, an equally green firelizard perched on that shoulder begging for scraps.

Seated nearby is another scrawny soul, Kironen’s dark hair almost touching his food as he’s bent over his bowl, inhaling its contents like an unschooled child. He manages to shovel so much food in his mouth that he has to stop and chew (and breathe) for a moment, dark eyes lifting from his bowl to dart across the faces of the people around. Ixia is one of those people, Kironen’s tired, strained eyes flicking from woman to firelizard and then beyond; a harmless look lacking any of the lingering that some men openly display. He chews enough to swallow his mouthful without choking and his eyes plummet quickly back down to his bowl. There is a hesitation in his next spoonful, but he fills his mouth again and lifts his head for a second glance around. Maybe his stomach has just started to feel less empty; maybe it’s something in the crowd, but Kironen gulps down his mouthful and looks over at Ixia. “Sorry ‘bout the fire,” he offers, his accent Fortian at best. His words are strung together like one big, long word — poorly enunciated; wherever he came from didn’t put any sort of emphasis on proper language. He nods his chin at the cargo. “You transferring?”

“Lot of good people gone,” Ixia decides, following a long silence in which she pokes her food around her plate and gives nothing but a non-committal twitch of her lips, a long, assessing look given Kironen before she speaks. “Still, nothing that can be done now. Best we can hope is that the higher-ups have learnt something about the safety of all that stuff and stop it happening again.” For an instant, she hunches her shoulders, retreating into herself in a manner that allows the green on her shoulder to steal a bite directly from the fork she’s no longer paying attention to. “…The keening was the worst of it. All of them at once, again and again…” She shakes her head and makes herself straighten, taking a deep breath. “We won’t forget.” Following his nod to her cargo, the greenrider gives a funny little smirk and tells him, “Nah. Bits and pieces for the observatory. Glass stuff. A lot got cracked and smoke damaged.” Then: “And you? Doesn’t sound like you’re from these parts.”

Whatever she finds in that assessing look, Kironen continues to shovel huge spoonfuls of food into his small mouth. Her recollection slows Kironen’s chewing and his gaze drops to apologetically circle the table between them, cheek puffed out slightly by the mouthful of food. His brown eyes edged with guilt and discomfort, his attention lifts in time to watch the firelizard steal a bite, and he finds himself able to think of something to say while trying to chew and swallow down his mouthful. “…Sorry.” Again. His jaw swings to one side as he cleans his teeth with his tongue. Either he’s never heard of manners or isn’t exercising them. “‘Been looking for good work for so long I probably don’t sound like I’m from any parts,” he counters, a self-deprecating smile tugging at the corner of his lips, bringing to life a boyish dimple. “I got work in Honshu if I can get there.” He bends low over his plate again, almost mid-sentence. A few mouth-shovels later, he lifts his head and casts a short look over Ixia’s shoulder while he quietly moves his food to one side of his bowl. “You got room for passengers? I could help you load up. I never strapped nothing to a dragon before but you show me once, I got it for goods.”

“Not your fault, kid. Not like you wired the place up wrong, or whatever it was.” Ixia twitches a shoulder and cracks another one of those odd, not quite smiles as if she could ease what guilt she perceives in Kironen’s gaze. This time, at least, it broadens into something closer to a true grin, amusement lighting her tired eyes as she asks, “You want your first time loading up a dragon to be with glassware?” She offers a proper bite to the firelizard this time, not allowing her to steal from her fork, but from her fingers. “You’re a brave one, I’ll give you that. Suppose you’ll be able to handle loading up anything after that.” It’s still not a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and doesn’t materialise into either for another few moments, what look like spring greens chased with her fork and crammed into her mouth with a carelessness that has her munching to keep them contained. “Deal is you let me train you properly to help out my wing if you’re any good. We can always do with people to help get straps sorted.”

He’s more than willing to leave the awkward, awful recent past die out of their conversation. Kironen’s lips spread into a short laugh, brightening his tired eyes and making him seem more of a boy than a man. “I’m not too worried,” he admits, leaning an elbow on the table so he can tip his bowl to scrape the last few morsels out with his spoon. “No disrespecting your good self but I don’t hear rumours of Honshu dragonriders like the rumours they got of Fortian dragonriders. I hear if you piss off a Fortian dragonriders, if you’re lucky, they dangle you by straps and fly ‘round with you hanging upside down ‘til you pass out.” There’s a graveness to his voice that might suggest he isn’t entirely sure whether to believe that rumour or not. “If you’re lucky.” His eyes gleam with hunger at the mention of helping out Ixia’s wing and he nods. “I’m supposed to work with the Smiths but I go where I get paid. You got work that’s worth it for me, I’ll find you, you bet on it.” He drops his spoon in his bowl and wipes his hand on his dusty old jacket, and even does Ixia the service of looking it over before extending his hand across the table. “Kironen,” said quietly.

Mention of Fort encourages a full on, rather unladylike snort from Ixia, though she lifts a hand to cover her mouth in-case anything more than sound tries to escape her during the minor coughing fit that follows. “Fortians’re still living in the dark and cold; no-wonder they’re permanently pissed off,” she remarks once she can speak again, unable to keep her lips from sharpening into another smirk. “Just ‘cause we’re more enlightened than that sorry lot doesn’t mean there aren’t folks you don’t want to mess with. You can have that advice for free. Comfort and peace and a dragon do not always a good person make.” She offers Kironen the same courtesy as she’s offered, wiping her hand on her trousers before she accepts his and gives it a firm shake, elbows planted down on the tabletop a moment later. “Ixia,” she provides in turn. “Zerujath’s my green. Working for Stellar – my wing – would net you extra marks here and there, but nothing too steady. More like a bonus to whatever else you earn.” Without further ado, she shifts her plate and mug to sit them before Kironen, suggesting, “Why don’t you cart these back to wherever they’ve got to go and I’ll see which of these here crates I can shove at you.”

If he is the least bit Fortian as his accent suggests, Kironen doesn’t show any ounce of injury at the insult but neither does he laugh. His mouth lifts softly at both ends; an uncommitted smile as he looks at the cargo — and then over his shoulder and back again, searching for the briefest of moments. Perhaps, though, he’s only looking for more food to stuff into his gullet. Dark eyes swing back to Ixia and he pays her a smile and a quick nod of acknowledgment, and then asks, “What does make a good person?” It’s somewhere between a rhetorical question without an answer and a legitimate one, asked specifically of the greenrider. “I can use all the bonuses I can find,” he admits and eyes her mug and plate. His brow artfully raises. “Is there a bonus for being your dish boy too? If it pays good enough, I’m yours.” A jest, surely, but he doesn’t go for the dishes and instead reaches in his pocket for a cap that he tugs down low on his forehead and moves to help get the cargo outside under her direction.

“None of us are good people. We just have good days and bad days.” Ixia is not so committed to returning the dishes to where they belong that she goes to move them herself, and nor does she attempt to get Kironen to shift them again, instead indicating the bottom couple of crates for him to assist with. They’re heavy for sure, yet she doesn’t appear to be deliberately pushing her luck and getting him to do the majority of the work, for there’s not really enough of her to get them outside safely herself. Maybe she didn’t choose to park them so awkwardly after all. Outside, the dainty Zerujath is both patient as her straps are seen to and delighted to meet someone new, her forepaws tap-tapping against the hard ground underfoot until there might come a time when she can shove her nose against Kironen and seek a proper hello. Once aboard her green and satisfied that she’s buckled him in right, Ixia peers back at him and finally thinks to check, “You’ve been Between before, right? Or travelled straight?”

No one is good. That’s a concept Kironen can get behind, and he does with a sober, “Aye.” Part Fortian, part sailor? Whatever he is, it isn’t his first time carrying cargo around with another person; he follows easily without pushing the boxes at Ixia. When they draw close to Zerujath, his attention is momentarily distracted by the green in that wonder-eyed way of people still enamored by dragonkind. “Hi there,” is offered to the green, unable to keep from smiling. He doesn’t shy away from her at any point — even offering a rub of his hand if she’ll take it — but when it comes down to learning, he focuses on Ixia’s lessons on tying straps and does what he can to assist. A quiet student. When it’s time to climb up or strap himself in, he’s awkward with his footfalls and nearly all thumbs with the buckles, and eventually lets Ixia take over while he watches like a child, elbows bent up above his shoulders. “It’s just been a while’s all,” he admits, nerves in his voice. He flashes a grin. “I won’t puke on you, if that’s your worry. Only did that once.” A beat. “Twice.”

“Let’s hope third time’s the charm.” Wait. Ixia frowns, absently patting at Zerujath’s neck as her lifemate tries to twist herself about just enough to whuffle at rider and passenger again. “Does that mean I should hope that you puke a third time and it ends it or…?” She can’t quite decide exactly what the saying means or what she should be hoping for, so she casts contemplation aside and tells Kironen to, “Hold on,” instead of exploring potential for throwing up any further, lest they invite it. Zerujath is a neat little creature, yet there’s still an unmistakable clinking of glass as she shifts her weight and launches herself skywards, blinking Between the moment that she’s of a safe height to do so. If they’re Between a second or two longer than they should be, Ixia either doesn’t notice or simply chooses not to draw attention to it, despite taking an awfully deep breath as they emerge over Honshu and begin to spiral down to a landing in the fields surrounding the Weyrhold. Back on the ground, she unbuckles first Kironen’s straps, then her own, asking, “You okay?”

“We’ll test it out some other time on some other dragon,” Kironen offers on the third time lucky charm. The warning laid, he gingerly rests his hands on the sides of her waist after tucking his hat inside a pocket before the wind steals it away. Without his low-slung hat on, he gets a good long look of the world falling away from under them, and his arms tighten around her waist as he squeezes his eyes shut. Black, Blacker, Blackest… It’s too long a time between, and when the sky appears out of the blackness again, Kironen fights to gasp lungs full of air again while also trying to stop the wind from choking him. “Kinda longer than I remember it,” he remarks once they’ve landed, and squints against the morning sun a few hours away from midday. He tries to find his bearings, clearly disoriented and pale. “I’m fine. I think. Just, … feel weird. Is it morning here?” Kironen starts to try to scramble down as gently as he can, as he turns from pale to green. “Down. I gotta get down.” He somehow manages to keep his lunch, and the ground under his feet helps return the colour to his face while he takes in the field separating them from the Weyrhold. “Are we hauling the cargo all the way from here?”

Ixia watches Kironen awfully closely for a few moments, silent in her observation and seemingly unwilling to speak until she’s reached some conclusion or another – or she’s sure that he’s not going to throw up on Zerujath’s paws. Whatever it is that she’s waiting for, she casts her shoulders back and straightens in her straps, finally allowing a sighed out, “Nothing is constant,” as she peers passively up at the Weyrhold before them. “Something like that,” commits to nothing at all, Zerujath giving a long, languid stretch as if she could ease the chill of Between from her very bones. Dragging her focus back, Ixia looks down at Kironen and tells him, “I’ve got to check in on someone before getting this lot where it needs to go. Won’t take you long to walk. Good exercise.”

She seems to have left him speechless, Kironen staring up at her with a questioning bow to his brows and mouth slightly agape. He casts a look at Zerujath as though she might clear up his confusion. If he reads anything there, he closes his mouth and steps back from her green paws slowly, a silent acknowledgement of Ixia’s remark. He pulls his hat out of his pocket and tugs it low onto his head, shrouding his dark eyes while wisps of curls flare out in every direction. Kironen offers a wave up and turns to start his walk up to the Weyrhold alone, shoving his hands into his deep jacket pockets.

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